On Dec. 25, 2010, Dr. Binyak Sen, a pioneer of health care to poor and indigenous communities in Chhattisgarh state and a human rights activist, was convicted of sedition and conspiracy under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act, 2005, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2004 by a state court. According to Amnesty International, Dr. Sen was convicted under laws that are impermissibly vague and fall well short of international standards for criminal prosecution. “Life in prison is an unusually harsh sentence for anyone, much less for an internationally recognized human rights defender who has never been charged with any act of violence,” Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director, said.
Dr Sen has been awarded the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights for his services to poor and tribal communities and his commitment to civil liberties. He has reported on unlawful killings of Adivasis (Indigenous People) by the police and by Salwa Judum, a private militia widely held to be sponsored by the state authorities. In 2009, local authorities had imprisoned him without filing charges for seven months and kept him in solitary confinement for three weeks, refusing his request to be transferred to a hospital because of recurrent chest pains. Central authorities in India ordered Dr. Sen’s release on bail in order to receive medical attention, after protests by us and by international human rights groups, intellectuals and doctors.
CCS wrote a letter to Simt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India, and other officials to urge her to follow up on her earlier actions to remedy local prosecution and injustice against Dr. Sen and to order state and federal authorities in India to immediately drop these politically motivated charges and to release Dr. Binayak Sen.